China launched the first two satellites in a new constellation that will support internet-connected objects today (May 12).
The satellites launched on an Expace Kuaizhou-1A rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, located in northwestern China, according to a statement released by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), a contractor for the Chinese space program. The launch occurred at 9:16 a.m. local time (0116 GMT; 9:16 p.m. EDT on May 11).
The satellites aboard, Xingyun-2 01 and Xingyun-2 02, are the first in a planned constellation of 80 low Earth orbit satellites designed to support the so-called Internet of Things, which connects a host of sensors and everyday objects through wireless communications.
The 80-satellite constellation is planned for completion by 2023, according to another statement from CASIC.
Today's launch represents the ninth successful mission of the Kuaizhou-1A rocket, which first flew in January 2017. The vehicle used during today's launch honored medical workers and the city of Wuhan, where the current COVID-19 pandemic began in December. China has reported 4,600 deaths from the disease, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The recognition was in part inspired by International Nurses Day, which is today. In China, today also marks the 12th anniversary of a devastating earthquake in Sichuan, which killed nearly 70,000 people, according to The Atlantic.
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